More existential late-night moaning and groaning from good ole’ Ace Backwords!!



I sometimes get this “it-all-turned-to-shit” feeling. My life. My youthful dreams. The city of Berkeley. The state of the world. It all turned to shit.

I’m not sure exactly how I envisioned my life turning out. But not like THIS. That’s for damn sure.

I guess I had some vague image of ending up living in a little cabin in the woods somewhere. With a wife or a girlfriend. A fireplace in the living-room. And the walls of my study would be lined with all my books and record albums. Spend my later years writing a series of books. Or recording a series of albums. Maybe have a column in the local newspaper where I could share my crackpot opinions with the breathless public. And a little meditation area in the corner in the back of the cabin, with my incense and Shiva statue and guru photos and a pillow to sit on. . .

I wonder how many people started out with a vision of the life they hoped to have, and actually attained it. Or even exceeded it.

And how many people watched haplessly as their youthful dreams crashed and burned.

Or all the people who didn’t have any ambitions in the first place. They just wanted to get through life as simply and painlessly as possible.



More existential moaning and groaning from good ole’ Ace Backwords!!

Is Nothing sacred?
When I look back on my life I often get this sense of incompleteness. Like something crucial was always missing. I spent much of my life aspiring towards something — chasing after something — that always seemed just out of reach.

It often seems like I spent my life gobbling down one experience after another that i never really digested.

Every now and then I’d have one of those magic moments, like the Lived Happily Ever After moments in the movies. But the feeling was usually fleeting. I’d wake up the next morning and it would be the start of the next movie and the next challenges.

I remember the Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon saying, “When I was a young man the one thing I wanted most of all in this world was to win a Super Bowl. And i worked like a dog for years and years aspiring towards that goal. And then when I finally won a Super Bowl it was the greatest feeling in the world. For several days I felt like I was in heaven. And then the feeling wore off, and I was right back where I started. I was like, is that all there is?”

Maybe its just the nature of this life. We eat to be hungry again later. Though it often seemed like I lived in a perpetual state of hunger. No matter what I had I always wanted something more. My guru used to say. “Planet earth is the realm of unsatisfied desires and cravings.”

My friend Duncan used to talk about “this yearning quality.” It’s an odd word, “yearning.” This feeling of intense longing for something. And often something we can’t even define or visualize.

I remember something the rocker John Doe of X once said to me. “Many artists have this hole inside themselves that they can never fill. Its why they create their art and run all over town and do all the things they do. To try and fill that hole.”

I guess I suffer from unrequited spirituality.


Sometimes you just got to keep walking

Sometimes there are no answers, there is no direction to your life, you have no idea where you are going, or even where you should be going. . . and all you can do is keep walking, step by step, left foot, right foot . . . .


Sometimes I’ll be walking down the street and I’ll suddenly think to myself, “What’s the point of this all??” And I’ll actually stop walking for a split-second. And I have to sort of force myself to keep walking.

I once had this disturbing dream. I was traveling from town to town, walking and walking. I was trying to get somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where I was trying to get to. So I just kept walking and walking in the hopes that I’d find where I’m trying to get to. And I’m getting more and more tired. Finally I walk down this alley and reach this cul de sac. This dead end. I’m completely out of energy and hope, so I just give up and lay down on the ground to die. And then I woke up.

Cheerful bastard, aren’t I?


This life can drive you nuts. And in my case it’s often a very short drive



I was a very driven person for many years. For like 30 years. I had this almost desperate desire to make something of my life. To BE somebody. To be a “success” (whatever that meant). To have a great career, a home, relationships, love, sex, pleasure, money, enlightenment. I wanted it ALL. And I wasn’t pissing about.

I was still at it, highly driven like that, all the way to 2009. I was working like a dog to finish and publish my ACID HEROES book. Which I was convinced was going to be my masterpiece. And after that, I recorded and pressed up copies of a CD of a People’s Park anniversary show. And I was still working full-time at my 25-cent book vending table gig (which was a very grueling job). So I was grinding away non-stop. Day after day.

And then, around Thanksgiving of 2009, its like I had a complete nervous breakdown. Everything collapsed. My best friend Duncan died. My book was a bomb. And my vending table gig ended.

It was like everything I had been working for, for all those years, had amounted to nothing. And I was back to zero.

So I got on a Greyhound bus and visited my little sister in Arizona for a couple months. To try to get some kind of perspective on all the mind-warping experiences I had gone through in Berkeley. And to try and come up with some kind of inspiration for What I Should Do Next. Hoping for some kind of Plan B.

And I remember one night in 2010 hanging out with my little sister at her house. And we’re drinking and talking and smoking cigarettes (we had to go out to her backyard for the cigarette breaks, she didn’t allow smoking inside her house). And I remember at one point I just started crying and crying. Really losing my shit. Having a complete nervous breakdown. One of those embarrassing scenes where you’re blubbering and wailing and you got snot coming out of your nose and all that. My little sister offers me a kleenex to sop up the tears. She’s known me since I was 2 years old, she’s known me for over 50 years. So she knows what I’m like. Its just me being me. So she’s not particularly unduly concerned. Its just me having a nervous breakdown. “Lets go out back for another smoke,” she says, after I come back down to earth.

And then I got on a Greyhound bus and moved back to Berkeley. And I never really came up with any answers. You often don’t. You just keep plodding forward, one step at a time. But I was no longer so “driven,” that’s for sure. And would mostly spend the next 8 years quietly sipping on my beer, and feeding a bunch of feral cats in the Berkeley hills.

And that’s pretty much where I ended up. Right up to this exact moment in time and space.